July 15th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) Former president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla said in court yesterday that she is “not a thief” and has “stolen nothing from Costa Rica,” as the defamation trial of hotelier and businessman, Alberto Rodrigiuez Baldi began its first day.
The former president pressed charges of defamation against Baldi in June of last year over a Facebook post he published, which claimed that Chinchilla purchased land worth millions of dollars in Guanacaste and had an interest in a wind-energy firm by embezzling public funds.
“You can’t call me a thief because I’ve never stolen even five colones. My only assets are the house where I live with my husband and son, a 1999 automobile, and another vehicle I purchased recently,” Chinchilla said during the proceeding.
Chinchilla’s home in Posos de Santa Ana is reportedly valued around $560,000, though Chinchilla said she has a mortgage on the home and plans to refinance it in order to pay for her son’s studies at a prestigious university abroad.
Chinchilla said her only income is her husband’s pension, which is about $6,000 per month, and that she filed for her own pension on May 8th, which is expected to be about ¢3.3 million (~$6,200) per month once effective.
Chinchilla told the court that she is not a millionaire, and her salary as president would not have afforded her the property in question.
The former president said that Baldi’s statements were “clearly” malicious “with the sole purpose of defaming my honor.”
Chinchilla also said that social networking is not on trial. “The trial that begins today is not against social networking and social networks, but against those who make malicious use of them. The internet and social networks should be protected from those who defraud, harass, attack, or slander,” Chinchilla said.
For his part, Baldi said corrupt public officials do not put assets in their name, and that they hide money offshore. “When does a corrupt official put things in their name? The corrupt put things in the names of nominees and the money is deposited in offshore accounts. The corrupt are not that stupid. As the Comptroller General said, the corrupt in this country have become quite sophisticated,” Baldi said, adding that he believes the case and the court have been politicized.
“Even the President of the Court is very interested in this case, he even reviewed the case file, this is very serious in the administration of justice and demonstrates the politicization of the court,” Baldi said.
Zarela Villanueva, President of the Supreme Court of Justice, denied any interference or involvement in the case.
The trial is set to resume today.